By now you probably know that Mitt Romney is refusing to answer reporters' questions regarding his suddenly infamous stance on FEMA offered last year. Today at Romney's "relief rally" in, of course, Ohio, this was the one-sided exchange that occurred between campaign journalists and Romney:
"'Governor, are you going to eliminate FEMA?' a print pooler shouted, receiving no response.
Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored.
Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions:
'Governor, are you going to see some storm damage?'
'Governor, has Chris Christie invited you to come survey storm damage?'
'Governor, you've been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?'"
But it's right about now that I think Romney, Ryan and the rest of the Republican deficit-hawks and archenemies of government and those supposedly frivolous "entitlements" it dispenses should be forced to face another of their recent public crusades. Over the past two years we've seen something unprecedented in conservative politics: the outright demonization of once-revered government employees, including teachers, police and firefighters. Police. And firefighters. You know -- first-responders. The people who were out there last night risking their lives to save others as Hurricane Sandy pummeled places like New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
This unconscionable show of disrespect has manifested itself in the dismissal of the 9/11 first-responders aid bill as "a massive new entitlement program"; the crushing of teachers' collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin; the reduction of pension payments to firefighters and the laying off of thousands of police officers in, ironically, New Jersey; and a general willingness to insult local and state workers as being an overpaid burden on the middle class.
In fact, it was only four months ago that Mitt Romney said this:
"(President Obama) wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."
If yours was one of the 70 homes on fire last night in Breezy Point, Queens, those government employees stared down 80-mile-an-hour winds, waded through waist-deep water and used row boats to save your ass. They carried you down ten flights of stairs in the dark if you were a patient at NYU's Langone Medical Center and needed to be evacuated because the entire complex had lost power. They patrolled flooded streets in the blinding rain, cracking open cars in Lower Manhattan to make sure you weren't drowning in one of them.
They did their jobs -- and as usual, they did them exceptionally.
Show a little fucking respect, Mitt.